Entente Cordiale

entente

King Edward VII and President Loubert in Paris in 1903 for the final arrangements for Entente Cordiale.

“What neither Azincourt nor Poitiers could do, the genius of Edward VII realized,” wrote Emile Flourens in La France Conquise, 1906. Not all were amused by the results of the Entente cordiale, a series of agreements signed on 8 April 1904 between the United Kingdom and France. However, it was a monumental agreement–a millennium of intermittent conflicts between the two nations were finally put to rest. Relationships between Britain and France have always been sensitive but at the end of Victoria’s reign, when they were worse than ever. Three years after her death the situation was completely reversed by this joint initiative of Britain’s King Edward VII (‘Edward the Peacemaker’) and of the French President Emile Loubert. With the combination of his charm and eminence, Edward managed to pursue this personal diplomacy–a power not asserted by any British sovereign since James II.

The text of the Entente was the work of two Foreign Secretaries – the Marquess of Lansdowne and Theophile Delcasse. In the frontiers of imperialism, Egypt, Morocco, Suez Canal, Newfoundland, West and Central Africa, Siam, Madagascar and the New Hebrides, two nations reached a series of colonial concessions. A counterbalance the growing dominance of the German sphere of influence, it also was the ending of centuries of Anglo-French rivalry and Britain’s splendid isolation from Continental affairs. It was the start of a peaceful co-existence that has continued to date.

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